Don't Think of an Elephant

By on 3 January 2012

by George Lakoff is a good resource on the psychological tools used by the right to frame the issues, in contexts that make them seem “sensible” to people. The main point is, when facts disagree with the frame, it is human nature to discard the facts, or alter them to fit the frame. The main types of frame are the nurturant family versus the disciplinarian father (you can guess which is which). He discusses the various “values” of the right: fiscal conservatism, abortion, same-sex marriages, etc, and how the conservative view fits in with the disciplinarian frame.

For example, fiscal conservatism is viewed as the individual being disciplined enough to make it to the top 1%, and those who are poor are poor because they are undisciplined, so they must be punished and shouldn’t have social programs such as welfare and medicare. This is why they advocate tax cuts, not so much to consolidate more wealth in the hands of the upper echelon, but also to ensure that once their pet departments are sated: defence, prisons, and police, there is no money in the pot for social programs.

The left needs to reframe the issues, for instance, by showing that there is no such thing as a self-made billionaire; every one of them has had some benefit from government programs, ranging from modern medicine to the Internet, to the road infrastructure, all of which were provided from tax revenues.

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